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Tag Archives: syndicalism

ASR 71/2, Workers Against Fascism

asr71coverASR 71-72 is on the press. This is a double issue, with special sections on labor’s fight against fascism and labor-community struggles in South Africa, as well as articles on the history of the term Libertarian (and of anarchist opposition to sexism), Anarchism and Play, and Eco-Anarchism.

Contents:
2. ASR & the Challenges Facing the Syndicalist Movement
3. Wobbles: Loyalty to the Bosses, Refusing Deportations, Booting La Migra, Golden Age for Workers? …
5. International Labor News Compiled by Mike Hargis
6. Wildcat in Vietnam… Labor Shorts by John Kalwaic
8. ARTICLES: Fascist Attack in Charlottesville
8. Unions Against Fascism by Shane Burley
10. Flying Squads & Self Defense Now by Jeff Shantz
12. Anarchists Against Hitler from the Kate Sharpley Library
13. Fighting Fascism: Lessons from Italy by Iain McKay
16. 160 Years of Libertarian by Iain McKay
24. On the Male & Female Human-Being by Joseph Déjacque
28. SPECIAL SECTION: People’s Power, Workers’ Control & Grassroots Politics in South Africa: Rethinking Practices of Self-Organization & Anti-Apartheid Resistance in the 1980s
28. S African ‘Workerism’ in the 1980s by Lucien van der Walt
32. Lessons from the 1984-85 Vaal Uprising by Jonathan Payn
37. Self-Organization in South Africa by Daria Zelenova
41. The Playful Anarchist by Brian Martin
45. REVIEWS: Eco-Socialism, Eco-Anarchism & the Anthropocene Review essay by Wayne Price
47. Debt: Anarchist Economics Review by Chad Anderson

50. Graeber on bureaucracy Review by Jeff Stein

51. Fighting the Spanish Revolution Review by Jeff Stein
52. Kropotkin’s Activist Anarchism Review by Iain McKay
53. This Fight is Our Fight? Saving America’s Middle Class Review by Wayne Price
56. Transnational Anarchism Review by Martin Comack
57. Economics of Labor Repression Review by Jon Bekken
58. Radical Press Review Review by Mike Hargis
59. LETTERS: Fighting CEO Pay, Reviving the Cold War…

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Anarcho-Syndicalism Today

I will be speaking in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Anarcho-Syndicalism Today: a presentation by Jon Bekken
at the Democracy Center, 45 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge
Thursday, January 12, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.

Anarcho-syndicalism (also referred to as revolutionary syndicalism) is a theory of anarchism which views revolutionary industrial unionism or syndicalism as a method for workers in capitalist society to gain control of an economy and, with that control, influence broader society. Syndicalists consider their economic theories a strategy for facilitating worker self-activity and as an alternative co-operative economic system with democratic values and production centered on meeting human needs.

Sponsored by the Boston Labor Support Committee

ASR 69: Trumpocolypse

asr-69-coverAnarcho-Syndicalist Review 69 (Winter 2017) is on the press, and will ship to subscribers in early January.

This issue features a special section on anarchist responses to resisting the Trumpocolypse, as well as articles on fighting capitalism to save the planet, a special section looking back on the First International and the battle between the emerging anarchist and Marxist currents, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and reviews of new books on anarchism in Bulgaria and the United States, a biography of Frank Little, and more…

New ASR Available

ASR 68 (Fall 2016)

New Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

asr67cover

ASR 67 is on the press, and features articles on the folly of electoral politics, a history of anarchism in Ukraine, anarchism in the 21st century, and a short piece from me looking at the devastation posed by 50 years of economic stagnation — to the point where nearly half of Americans tell the Federal Reserve Bank that they would not be able to come up with $400 if they were hit with an unexpected expense that high, and would have to borrow the money or let other bills slide to cover it.

Solidarity with Amazon.com workers

Recently a group of Polish Amazon warehouse workers struck against unsafe working conditions and pay issues at two Polish fulfillment centers. The workers are contracted through Manpower, Addeco and other temp agencies.

According to the Polish Syndicalist Union (ZSP), the union the workers are organizing with:

Working conditions are even worse than in other countries. Not only the low pay and long hours. Some Amazon workers, especially those hired by agencies, complain of a number of problems including late payments, incorrect payments, not having the mandatory health insurance payments, etc. etc. There is also the matter of workers in one center having a higher [pay] rate than in the other.

The Polish ZSP Amazon workers have launched an international campaign in support of their effort to change conditions at Amazon in Poland.

In solidarity, the Workers Solidarity Alliance is initiating a support campaign for a North American workers week of action Monday, January 26, through Saturday, January 31st. {amazonsolidaritycampaign@gmail.com}

Support the struggle against abuse and for better working conditions at Amazon Poland!
We call for actions of any kind against Amazon or Manpower work agency. Besides pickets at Amazon or Manpower, we would also appreciate publishing articles or making any leafletting or postering action which would inform potential Amazon customers about the working conditions. We also ask for organizations and individuals to send protest letters.
The agencies Adecco and Randstad are also involved, so they may also be picketed.

ZSP started union activity in Amazon with workers in the Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie fulfillment centers. Some are hired directly by Amazon and others were hired through Manpower, Adecco or Ranstad work agencies.
In December some people started to leave work at Amazon because not only are the working conditions terrible, but there were also problems with incorrect payments. A few people decided to organize. We started with Manpower, since the biggest problems seemed to be for people hired through this agency. We announced a picket at its headquarters on Dec. 16, but before the action, Manpower contacted us trying to get us to call off actions. They paid one of the workers overdue salary. We still went with a picket and have been discussing the issues with them. Some other payments have been made but Manpower has not acted quickly on all the cases. We also picketed Adecco, which also tried to get us to call off actions, but they made payments very quickly and went to Amazon to straighten out the situation. For this reason, we decided to focus on Manpower. However, later we heard of more cases of abuse from the side of Adecco, including not paying the obligatory health insurance payments. So although we originally made the appeal only for actions against Manpower, there are still serious problems with Adecco and Randstad and pickets there would also be welcome. The situation is still developing and we have new information all the time. We expect new problems to appear in January, when workers should get money for December. We believe that the problem may originate with Amazon, but the agencies are still responsible to ensure proper payments.
As more and more complaints are appearing, check for updates and more information here: http://zsp.net.pl/zsp/english

WORKING CONDITIONS
Stressful, high-pressure work, non-stop running around warehouse. 10.5 hour shifts – 10 hours of work plus unpaid 30 minute lunch break. No other breaks. Changing shifts, workers have to work 18:30-05:00 half of their working time. Night shifts and Sunday work not paid extra. Salary – about 3 euros an hour gross. The warehouses in Poland serve mostly the German market, but also France and UK. Workers get about a fourth of the salaries in Germany for the same job. Working conditions vary in Amazon but in UK workers make more money at night and in many countries employees have additional 15-minute breaks. Not in Poland. Many workers have to travel more than 1 hour to get to work. Workers in Sady near Poznan are paid more than the workers in Bielany Wroclawskie for the same work.
PROBLEMS WITH WORK AGENCIES
Workers feel they were misled about working conditions when recruited through Manpower and Adecco. They were led to believe they would earn more money. They are not told that they wouldn’t get extra pay for evenings and Sundays and, according to some workers, they were promised the statutory 20% extra. According to the law, workers should received their salaries no later than on the 10th day of the month after the work was completed, but the payments have been regularly late. For example, both Adecco and Manpower have promised us that some payments for work in October and November would be paid – but only in January.

UPDATES
Workers at Amazon have a communication forum where ZSP union publishes articles about rights at work. We now receive dozens of reports about new problems. Workers did not receive money for time they were at health and safety training or for days when they were employed but Amazon did not assign them work. For some workers this was as long as three weeks. In both cases they are legally entitled to pay.
Workers are forced to move large boxes manually by cart. There have been cases where the agencies have not paid the social security payments /health care so they are not insured in case of injury.

DEMANDS
FROM AMAZON
Higher rates of pay for work at night and on Sunday
15 minute paid break
No difference in working conditions for directly employed and agency workers
Equalization of salaries in Sady and Bielany Wroclawskie
Payment for time without assigned work (postojowe)
Payment for health and safety training
Forklifts for heavy weights

FROM MANPOWER
Clear explanation of working time and accounting period to workers before they sign contract
Clear pay slips, showing number of hours worked and all deductions
Payments made in full by 10th of the month, in accordance with the law
Payments to ZUS (social security/health care) on time
Payment for time without assigned work (postojowe)
Payment for health and safety training
Money for laundry equivalent (which figures on payslip, but isn’t paid)

Fax/Email To Amazon
An email form will be set up for individual protests at amazon.zsp.net.pl We ask organizations supporting to send letters separately.
Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon: jeff@amazon.com
Director of Operations, CEE, Kerry Person: kerry.person@amazon.com
Fax: +352 26 73 33 32 or +1 206 622-2405
We support the campaign of the ZSP for better working conditions in Amazon Poland! No to exploitation and taking advantage of cheap labour! Give the workers a break and higher wages!
To Manpower
US Headquarters: Ania.Waszkiewicz@manpowergroup.com
Fax. 1 (414) 319-3401
Warsaw Office Fax: + 48 22 50 40 717 manpowergroup@pl.manpowergroup.com
We support the demands of workers in Amazon Poland to receive their payments correctly and on time from your agency!

Amazon locations: http://www.amazon.jobs/search-location http://www.amazon.com/Locations-Careers/b?ie=UTF8&node=239366011
Manpower locations:  http://www.manpowergroup.com/wps/wcm/connect/manpowergroup-en/home/about/globaloperations#.VKPAUSuG_3s

All international efforts are initiated and coordinated by the ZSP Amazon workers. Any correspondence should go directly to: amazon@zsp.net.pl

We encourage all comrades to aid this campaign. The Workers have also set up a site with an electronic protest letter: http://amazon.zsp.net.pl/

International Day of Action in Solidarity with Santander workers

There will be another day of action next week in solidarity with CNT members fighting outsourcing and retaliation against union activity. Santander is a Spanish multinational which bought US-based Sovereign Bank in the depths of the recent recession, using the proceeds from dumping its speculative real estate holdings just before the Spanish real estate bubble collapsed. Fighting such predatory international concerns surely requires international action on our part.
Yesterday I received the following appeal from CNT Isban:
Thursday, 6 March: International Boycott of Banco Santander, Isban and Panel Systems.
http://informaticamadrid.cnt. es/articulo/26-02-2014/6-de- international boycott-Mar- counter-santander-bank-Isban and-panel-systems
Requested Actions:

Two weeks after forming the union section of the CNT-AIT, Santander-Isban dismissed our representative in Isban and subcontractor Panel Systems moved him away from coworkers, but failed to stop our struggle.
Since then they assign tasks that can not be done without providing training, have long periods without doing anything, accuse him of not being productive and violate their schedule,  … Our delegate has also been asked about the numerous flaws that have appeared in office bathrooms and hallways, hinting that he has something to do with what they call “wave of vandalism.”
They have also refused to allow him to work from home (the new worksite is far from his home, and from the facility he was hired to work at), while allowing others to do so, even after suffering a traffic accident “commuting” and without being required his presence in the office at all.
We hope that direct action against these operators serve to force Isban to reinstate our delegate to his original position and the potential spread of syndicalism as a tool for radical transformation of society.
Thank you all for your support … and tell with ours for whatever it takes!
Health and Anarchy!

Association Section on Isban
Union of Telecommunications and Information Services

—————-

A rough translation of their leaflet:

BOYCOTT BANCO SANTANDER, ISBAN AND PANEL SYSTEMS

In August 2013, the union of the CNT-AIT in Isban publicly denounced the illegal workforce arrangements between Panel and Isban Systems, the computer services division of Santander group.

Isban responded by effectively dismissing the union delegate, who was transferred to Isban’s controlled subcontractor, Panel Systems, in order to isolate him from the workers and allow them to continue exploiting precarious workers through irregular working conditions. Since then, the union delegate has been bullied in an attempt to force his resignation and abandonment of the struggle for the rights of workers.

Federated revolutionary unions in the International Workers Association are responding to the attack, demanding the reinstatement of sacked delegate in Banco Santander Isban, where the multinational maintains its headquarters. The conflict has spread around the globe in 12 different languages.

Isban manages a network of subcontractor that it controls to provide cheap and precarious work for the bank Santander. It has more than 10,000 workers illegally provided by these companies, who may be dismissed at any time without compensation because they are not recognized as employees.

Panel Systems is one of dozens of companies that profit from the illegal assignment of workers to powerful ” customers” such as Isban while destroying stable employment.

Workers fear being left in the street if they protest poor conditions, facilitating acceptance of surrealist work schedules. mandatory overtime and travel – forced to accept whatever work schedule the company demands, at salaries below what is paid recognized employees for the same work.

There have been hundreds of illegal dismissals in the Santander group targeting the most vulnerable, with the complicity of the government and company unions. Meanwhile, the Santander Group’s net profit amounted to 4,370 million euros in 2013, almost double that in 2012.

Santander head Emilio Botin, Rodrigo Rato, Alfredo Saenz, Jose Maria Amusátegui and other senior bank staff have been previously reported, and sometimes convicted, for violating Spanish labor law. But the infamous “Botin doctrine” ignores Santander’s legal obligations and the rights of its workers.

Botin is infamous for his ongoing tax evasion, illegal purchase of banks, the collapse and subsequent rescue of Bankia, huge severance packages to senior management, the case of the Swiss accounts of the Botin family, sale of junk mortgages and bogus securities, evictions and property speculation, charging extortionate interest, shady deals with universities, participation in arms companies and financial management and profiteering from the terrible Spanish prison system. A long list of crimes unpunished to date.

We’re not going to shut up or resign. As long as exploitation and inequality persist we are going to stand up, together, relying on our solidarity as workers in our struggle for dignity and empowerment. Towards Social Revolution.

OUR RIGHTS WILL BE WON THROUGH STRUGGLE

NATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF LABOUR (CNT-AIT)
SECTION ASSOCIATION IN ISBAN

Only direct action can save workers’ lives

UPDATE: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the demolition continued even though the building’s owner had written city officials warning that “This nonsense must end before someone is seriously injured or worse: those are headlines none of us want to see or read.” STB Investments was upset because the Salvation Army, which owned the adjacent property, had rejected its efforts to purchase and demolish the building and was insisting on protections for its store and its contents during the demolition process. When the Salvation Army would not agree to STB’s terms, it evidently proceeded to proceed in what it itself had warned was a highly dangerous manner, with the result that several people were killed. Neither the city nor the Salvation Army stepped in to force a halt to this reckless behavior, though the demolition site was visited by city and federal safety inspectors.

Last week, in Central Philadelphia, a building in the process of demolition by a low-bid, non-union contractor collapsed, killing six people in an adjacent thrift store and injuring many more. It appears that the collapse was caused by a failure to follow standard procedures including bracing the walls, and by using heavy equipment to knock down the structure without regard for the safety of those nearby.

Working In These Times has a report that OSHA was called in to the pre-collapse building site by union workers (at a nearby job) concerned by what they saw, but the Agency failed to shut down the job despite unsafe conditions that were obvious to the union workers (and now to all of us). Relying on government agencies to protect us against the bosses is a dangerous game — the responsible thing (and it would have saved lives, but been roundly condemned by the boss press) would have been for the union to organize a flying squad to go in and shut the job down: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/15122/osha_visited_philly_building_collapse_site_but_did_not_shut_it_down/

This is what comes of relying on government regulators to protect our lives. It would have been far better if the union members, having noticed the unsafe conditions, had marched on the job site and shut it down through direct action. Then six of our fellow workers would still be alive, though of course the boss press would have screamed about union thuggery and the gumpets would have demanded that we work through “proper channels.” But our fellow workers would still be alive, and the bosses would have been taught a valuable lesson — that there are limits to their callous disregard for our lives and our planet.

The political farce

As Idaho Blackie often said, If God had meant us to vote he’d have given us candidates.

I won’t be voting again this November.

I can understand why many people are afraid of putting someone like Mitt Romney in charge of their lives (it is pretty scary, but so is putting someone on charge who is willing to kill people putting out ideas he finds dangerous with remote controlled drones, just because he can). Authorizing some individual (and particularly these individuals) to make decisions in my behalf is a perversion for which I have no taste.

For president this year we have the choice of a man who believes the role of government is to shovel ever-larger sums of money at the exploiting class, in hopes that this largesse will encourage them to let some of this socially created wealth trickle down to the rest of us, or another candidate who instead of being the servant of capital is himself wholly of the exploiting class and  objects that the immiseration of the majority is proceeding too slowly. Or I suppose one could vote for the “Libertarian,” who wants to impose a massive tax on everything working people buy to sustain life, so that he can eliminate taxes on the exploiting class.

Why anyone bothers to participate in this facade is beyond me.

But more to the point is the very notion of government, where a handful are empowered to impose by force their decisions upon society. Instead we need democracy, where people make decisions for themselves and implement them through organizations which they control directly. It is through this sort of direct democracy that we won the 8-hour day, an end to child labor, the right to free speech, environmental protections, etc. Social progress results from our self-activity, and from our refusal to accept what our masters dish out, in the face of the often-brutal resistance from those who claim the right to govern us.

Fundamentally, what matters is not what happens on election day but what we do the other 364 days of the year — in our communities, in the unfettered dictatorships that are the reality of most jobs, etc.

Swedish syndicalist attacked by thugs

Union representative beaten and menaced with death in his own home, and forced at knife point to retract union’s demands.
On 2 July at nine p.m. six men with connections to a Stockholm criminal gang, Werewolf Legion, forced their way into the home of a union representative of the SAC Västerort local section.  Having locked his wife and her children in another room, they beat the union man repeatedly about the head, and with a knife at his throat forced him to retract all the union’s claims against a certain staffing agency with which SAC had been attempting to negotiate.  The victim was forced to phone the staffing agency’s owner, who is the brother of the leader of the six attackers, and retract all the union’s claims.  
SAC spokesperson, Anders Knutsson, called for government and police attention to what was in effect a serious attack on the entire union movement.  Behind this attack in the union representative’s home was the union’s having called the staffing agency to a negotiation meeting.  On the agenda were two illegal firings, including claims for unpaid salaries and unsettled vacation compensation.  After the first meeting, the staffing agency stated the next meeting was to be on its premises, but this did not take place.  The next development was the attack of the six hoodlums on the union representtive.  Not only is the leader of the attack the brother of the agency’s owner, but he has held a high position in the Wereworlf Legion gang.  In addition, after the union representative had been forced under threat of death to drop all union claims, the chief of the attackers informed the union man that he had a personal debt of half a million Swedish kronor to the leader of the Werewolf Legion.  This has to be paid within a month or the union man will be killed.
The staffing agency in question hires out personnal mainly to hotels and restaurants.  SAC has received reports of many abuses in such staffing agencies.  Workplace regulations and union agreements are often ignored, certain agency owners are suspected of having connections to the criminal world, and it is not unusual that these agencies can serve as means of laundering money for criminal gangs.   It was only a question of time, said the SAC spokesperson, until attacks on union representatives would begin.  SAC is demanding therefore that the police and the Minister of Labour, Hillevi Engström, take immediate measures to get the staffing agencies to follow Swedish labour market regulations and Swedish law.
SAC Syndikalisterna
more information: info@sac.se